Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Something crashed onto the bed, jerking Ella awake.

She opened her eyes, pressing them shut again at once. Someone had moved the curtains in the window, letting in morning sunlight. She felt something move next to her on her small bed. She sheltered her eyes from the light with a hand and pushed herself off of the lying position. She was amazed, and slightly scared to find a girl on the bed next to her.

The girl was dressed in the most peculiar fashion. Her clothes looked like the attire of men. She wore two grease stained gloves, which Ella could only see because the other girl was struggling to release herself from the ropes that held them behind her back. Her light brown hair was pulled into a messy tail and grease stains covered her face as well.

“What is the meaning of this, Adri?” she screeched.

Only now did Ella see the two women standing at the doorway of her room atop the tower. One of them was, of course, her stepmother. The other, she assumed, was Adri.

“You two have given us enough trouble to last a lifetime, Cinder,” Adri said with vehemence.

Ella’s eyes widened.

Cinder? Her name is Cinder?…

“Truth you speak, Adri,” Lady Tremaine said. “For all I know, Cinderella could be plotting to kill my Anna!”

“I am plotting no such thing!” Ella replied.

“Keep your mouth shut, girl,” she said, and began to withdraw from the doorway, pulling it closed behind her. “Stay locked here forever!”

“But, Mother, what about breakfast?” Ella said, reacting fast.

“Oh, you need not worry.” sarcasm dripped from her tone. “We have replacements.”

The door closed with a loud thud, and the next second she heard the lock click into place.

All was quiet for a while, save for the chirping of birds on her windowsill. Her only friends, the birds an the mice, seemed to be sad from the latest development as well. Ella felt like crying. She did not ever think of hurting any of her stepsisters. They were her sisters after all, even though they treated her as a maid.

“Hey,” Cinder said, “you think you can undo my binds?”

This made Ella turn. She nodded, hesitant. The tears in her eyes stung.

“Then please do. I can get us out of here.”

Ella began working on the ropes at once. However, to her horror she found a flat substance blocking her access to the knot.

“I don’t think this is going to work,” she said, after toiling away at it for so long that her fingers ached from constantly pulling on the rope.

“Don’t tell me its one of those mechanical ropes,” Cinder said, apprehension apparent in her voice.

“Whatever that would be, I think it is,” Ella said. She had only ever heard of mechanical carriages. Mechanical ropes was something she could not picture.

“Ugh…” Cinder groaned. “What now?”

Ella looked around before answering, “Jaq and Gus seem to be gone… Oh no…”

“What?” asked Cinder.

“What if Lucifer catches them?” Ella ran to the door.

“Lucifer? The cat?”

“Yes!”

“Oh, don’t worry. Pearl’s got him occupied.”

Ella stopped in her tracks. “Pearl?”

“Uh… I guess you could say she’s Drizella’s modern day counterpart.” Cinder sighed. “She hates me.”

Oddly enough, this made Ella’s curiosity bubble up above every other emotion at the moment. “Who are you?”

“I’m Cinder,” she said, “You probably already know that.”

Ella walked back to her bed. “Why are you named Cinder?”

“I have no idea.”

“They call me Cinderella because they make me work at the kitchen all day, and the ashes are always all over me,” Ella said, surprising herself.

Cinder smiled. ” I know. I’ve read about you.”

“Read about me?”

“Yeah. Your story turns into a book later. I found it rather ancient. The era of your story is FAR behind mine.”

“Oh,” Ella said, unsure of what to think of the new-found information. What story was she talking about?

“Now that I think about it, I think I know why they call me Cinder.”

“Why?”

“Because my aunt burned me when I was three. They retrieved me from ashes.”

Ella gasped. “That is vile!” she exclaimed. “What aunt does that?”

“She’s like that. She can do anything for power.”

“Power?”

“Yeah, she’s the queen of the moon.”

Ella blinked. “You’re joking, right?” Queen of the moon…?

“Nope. All true.”

And on and on their conversation went. They forgot about meals, and talked about the future instead. The news of the wars terrified Ella. The epidemics made her pray for the welfare of every soul living at the time when it struck. The advance in technology fascinated her. They became the best of friends in no time, even though there was probably an entire millennia of generation gap between them.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pleased to Meet You.”

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Author: anankhan98

When I close my eyes, I see myself as a writer. I see a pale blank page in front of me and feel a solid pen in my hand. I feel inspiration flowing through me, hear the words being whispered in my ears, ready to be written. And I see myself writing them. So, I write. And that is why I am here right now. To let the world know that I want to become better at this. That there is this unbelievably naive living in this corner of the world, who wants to have people help her become the best she can become. My focus is actually on fiction. I dream up stories in my sleep, literally. And I can't help but want to write them. Knowing English only as a second language is a drawback, though. I still try.

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